Some useful camera equipment to get the most out of garden photography.
A tripod is great for providing stability whilst you shoot and eliminating camera shake, particularly in low light situations, essential when using a macro lens. Using a tripod also makes you to think about the shot you want to take, helps you get your composition and viewpoint right, and fine-tune your set up to get precise focusing.
Small collapsible reflectors allows you to bounce light into the darker areas of your subject, the biggest advantage is that you can see the results instantly. The majority of reflectors have different colours on each side and a additional sleeve that can be slipped over the reflector for added dimensions. A Gold reflector gives a warm light, silver is used to produce a cooler light and white for a soft fill-in look.
The Wimberley Plamp is such a useful tool there isn’t much I don’t do without one. A plamp has a clamp at one end which can be attached to a tripod or a table or a branch, at the other end is a clip which can be used for holding a reflector or the stem of a flower or for holding some distracting background clutter out of the shot when you are not able to remove it i.e. in a public garden and finally for holding an artificial background.
Your choice of lens will depend on what you intend to photograph, your chosen camera and your budget.
Now those of you that already know me will know that I am not a camera kit freak and that I’m not one to have one of everything, in fact just the opposite. Now I could tell you to go and buy the top range ABC or the latest XYZ but I won’t. Yes, your equipment will go a long way to making the image but its the person holding the camera who has to see the image.
So these are the lenses I currently use when shooting flowers and insects in the garden and I’ll let my images speak for themselves with regards to the results.
Canon EF100mm f2.8 Macro:
This is a dedicated 1:1 reproduction ratio Macro lens which I use to photograph life-size images of insects and detailed flower close-ups. I always have the camera mounted on the tripod when using this lens as the slightest movement will produce camera shake.
Sigma 18-250mm f3.5-f6.3 EX DC HSM:
My other lens is a sturdy Sigma that has a focal range which covers all eventualities. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I’m not one for lots of equipment and if one lens can do the job and cover all my requirements then that’s the one I’ll stick with. Occasionally a different subject will catch my attention out of the corner of my eye and I have found that insects and birds don’t hang around long enough for me to fiddle about changing lenses – well that’s my excuse and I’m standing by it!
Other useful items:
A beanbag offers good support when working on the ground. The filling moulds naturally around the camera and lens and absorbs the majority of movement, this is particularly useful if you have a tripod that doesn’t go very low.
Scissors or secateurs are handy to have so that you can prune out stray leaves or branches or deadhead flowers that you don’t want in your image. NOTE – this is OK if you are photographing in your garden but is not a good idea in another garden or the grounds of a public house.
Camping seat or a garden kneeler just to provide a little comfort for you whilst you’re waiting for your visitors.